Sanger in Her Own Words
The recent flap between the Obama administration and the Church caused me to dig up my copy of Margaret Sanger’s Woman and the New Race. I expect that the views of Margaret expressed here were not her own but were larger currents of the time and Margaret Sanger was the one who articulated them. The current state of the culture in this country is not a coincidence, rather it is the goal. I say that based not only on this excerpt but also others. Whether the current state is a good thing or a bad thing is the entire question.
Still further light is shed upon the real sources of the practice, as well as upon the improvement of the status of woman through the practice, by an English student of conditions in India. Captain S. Charles MacPherson, of the Madras Army, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1852, said: “I can here but very briefly advert to the customs and feelings which the practice of infanticide (among the Khonds of Orissa) alternately springs from and produces. The influence and privileges of women are exceedingly great among the Khonds, and are, I believe, greatest among the tribes which practice infanticide.
Their opinions have great weight in all public and private affairs; their direct participation is often considered essential in the former.”
If infanticide did not spring from a desire within the woman herself, from a desire stronger than motherhood, would it prevail where women enjoy an influence equal to that of men? And does not the fact that the women in question do enjoy such influence, point unmistakably to the motive behind the practice?
Infanticide did not go out of fashion with the advance from savagery to barbarism and civilization. Rather, it became, as in Greece and Rome, a recognized custom with advocates among leaders of thought and action.
So did abortion, which some authorities regard as a development springing from infanticide and tending to supersede it as a means of getting rid of undesired children.
As progress is made toward civilization, infanticide, then, actually increased. This tendency was noted by Westermark, who also calls attention to the conclusions of Fison and Howitt (in Kamilaroi and Kurnai). “Mr. Fison who has lived for a long time among uncivilized races,” says Westermark, “thinks it will be found that infanticide is far less common among the lower savages than among the more advanced tribes.”
Following this same tendency into civilized countries, we find infanticide either advocated by philosophers and authorized by law, as in Greece and Rome, or widely practiced in spite of the law, civil and ecclesiastical.
The status of infanticide as an established, legalized custom in Greece, is well summed up by Westermark, who says: “The exposure of deformed or sickly infants was undoubtedly an ancient custom in Greece; in Sparta, at least, it was enjoined by law. It was also approved of by the most enlightened among the Greek philosophers.
Plato condemns all those children who are imperfect in limbs as well as those who are born of depraved citizens.”
Aristotle, who believed that the state should fix the number of children each married pair should have, has this to say in Politics, Book VII, Chapter V:
“With respect to the exposing and nurturing of children, let it be a law that nothing mutilated shall be nurtured. And in order to avoid having too great a number of children, if it be not permitted by the laws of the country to expose them, it is then requisite to define how many a man may have; and if any have more than the prescribed number, some means must be adopted that the fruit be destroyed in the womb of the mother before sense and life are generated in it.”
Aristotle was a conscious advocate of family limitation even if attained by violent means. “It is necessary,” he says, “to take care that the increase of the people should not exceed a certain number in order to avoid poverty and its concomitants, sedition and other evils.”
In Athens, while the citizen wives were unable to throw off the restrictions of the laws which kept them at home, the great number of hetera, or stranger women, were the glory of the “Golden Age.” The homes of these women who were free from the burden of too many children became the gathering places of philosophers, poets, sculptors and statesmen. The hetera were their companions, their inspiration and their teachers. Aspasia, one of the greatest women of antiquity, was such an emancipated individuality. True to the urge of the feminine spirit, she, like Sappho, the poetess of Lesbia, sought to arouse the Greek wives to the expression of their individual selves.
The above is from Chapter II — Woman’s Struggle For Freedom